•                                                          BIOGRAPHY OF A.JAGADIS
  • His father Shankaranarayana Iyer had studied upto B.A. and later studied Law. He was practicing as Lawyer in the Courts.
  • EDUCATION: High School and College at Coimbatore. While in 2nd year Intermediate Course he discontinued his studies due to participation in freedom movement and arrest of leaders of Home Rule Movement.
  • What all he did :
  • - In the year 1918 - he joined as a clerk in a business firm dealing in Hardware in Madras.
  • - In the year 1919 - Started own Import –Export business. Imports from England mainly was of steel, copper, brass sheets, rolls and ingots; cutlery; electrical goods such as torches, pocket lamps, batteries, etc. He was also managing the Bombay branch of the business. These businesses were being run as  partnership firms along with another person.   Exports were mostly Ivory articles made in his own factory under his  guidance and supervision.   
  • - In the year 1923- - Due to slump in market conditions this business was closed. He shifted to Bangalore. Started business dealing in Electrical Goods, automobile service.
  • - In the year 1926 - Shifted to Mysore. Started business dealing in Low Voltage goods. The Shop’s name was THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCY.
  • -
  • He married Sharadambal and had 2 daughters , Nilambal and Jayalakshmi
  • and 2 sons  , Guru Shankar and Ravi Shankar




 Mother Nagambal and Father Shankaranarayana Iyer



Group photo with siblings

Sitting (L to R) Sharada, Jagadis, Nagambal, Shankaranarayana Iyer, Rameshan, Parvatham

Standing (L to R) Meenalochani, Maragatham, ASV Mani, Rajeswari, Savithri, Gowri

Children (L to R) Padma, Guru Shankar, Neela, Jaya, Prabha Shankar


 another Group Photo with extended family

Sitting(L to R) Seethalakshmi, Jagadis, Nagambal, Shankaranarayan, Lalithambal, Nataraj,

                      Prabha, Sivaswamy

Standing (L to R) Gowri, Krishnamurthy, ASV Mani,Janaki, Parvatham, Rameshan, Akhilandeswari,



  • - The years 1930 to 1937- Tryst with Radio Broadcasting
  • (see separate write up)
  • He had established business contacts with M/s.Collins Radio Co. of U.S.A. and imported several Radio Transmitters from them.
  • In a letter dated 13.06.1936 to Collins Radio co while suggesting to them to have clearly defined terms of contract he mentions of having been very badly let down by an American co.( Who  this company was and what was the line of business is not known as he has not mentioned it anywhere)
  • Collins Radio co without replying to this letter chose to appoint Rama Brothers, Karachi , as their sole agents for India, which was informed vide their letter dated 11.07.1936.
  • Inspite of his disappointment he expressed his desire to work with them if they were to come to some reasonable agreement. However Rama Brothers did not show much interest nor did they co operate in the business.
  • This came as a severe blow to him. He had taken all the pains to convince the Goverrnment of India regarding Short Wave broadcasting and had also built up a strong liaison through Mr. Gopalan, who had by then been designated as the Research Engineer, of All India Radio . Due to the  move by Collins and the lackadaisical manner of Rama Brothers all the efforts made by him till then  were not only wasted  he also suffered monetarily very heavily due to the loss of business opportunity. It was once again a setback from another American company.
  • In his letter dated 8.07.1937 to Collins Radio he once again expresses his anguish and mentions that he has stopped all his interests in the transmitter business.

 In September 1936 lost his wife Sharadambal.

  • He married Seethalakshmi in the year 1937
  • He had 4 daughters , Sharada, Nagamani, Geetha and Kalyani
  •                               and 1 son, Jai Shankar through his second marriage
  • - In the Year 1937- Moved back to Madras after handing over the Mysore business to his brother Sri.ASV Mani.
  • Set up a business to sell Radios and other electrical articles. He was compelled to close this business due to the scare of the 2nd World War and moved to Bangalore once again.
  • The years – 1941 to 1950- Tried to set up a manufacturing unit in Bangalore to manufacture radios and radio parts but was unsuccessful due to financial constraints. A period of bitter struggle for survival.
  • The years – 1950 to 1959 – Was instrumental in opening a branch of M/s.General Radio &Appliances Ltd at Bangalore and Secunderabad , Dealing in National Ecko Radios, RCA Cinema Projectors and other electrical and broadcasting equipments.
  • He was part of a delegation of Managers of GRA that visited U.K. .
  • He was also the Manager of the Philips Radio show room in Bangalore for a few years.
  • Even after ceasing to work and inspite of continuous ill health he used to be active not only physically but also mentally.
  • He used to write to Governenment and political authorities on topics he considered relevant.
  • His efforts to get a Short Wave Radio station for Mysore was never fulfilled (even till today)


  • He wrote to the then Irrigation minister about the need to Inter link the rivers of India much before any one had thought about it.
  • He wrote to the chief Minister of Karnataka about developing the hillocks in Ramanagaram on the lines of the Rushmore Memorial in the United States


  • He was a self made man. Had a very good command over the English Language. He was a very good orator and writer. He had interest in various subjects and very innovative ideas.
  • He used to be meticulously dressed in a white panchagacham dhoti and coat.
  • Being the eldest son of his father he had to take care of the large family of his father as well as his own.
  • He used to tell that he was running a Bus Transport also for sometime . I am not able to find out the exact years.
  • He was a avid walker with a very brisk pace and very graceful in his strides.
  • He had a sharp mind and very strong memory.
  • He was very methodical in his work and activities seeking for perfection in whatever he did.
  • As is the norm, though he had built/sold hundreds of radios, he did not have a radio receiver of his own in the later years. His brother, Sri.A.S.V.Mani had to give him a set so that he could listen to his favorite radio stations.
  • Being the eldest son with a large number of siblings as well as a large family of his own he had to take a lot of moral and financial responsibilities. With limited income from his business managing such a huge burden was always a difficult proposition.

 A sample of his handwriting


Ivory idols made in his workshop


During his London visit


His Favre Leuba wrist watch bought in the year 1917




 some of the tools used by him which are still in good and usable condition



                                                  TRYST WITH RADIO BROADCASTING - A.JAGADIS


  • ( This is more in Autobiography style as his own writings have been used)
  • I was in Madras during the years 1918 to 1923.
  • While in Madras I was running a business dealing in low voltage electrical goods along with other items. My interest in low voltage goods made me to come in contact with one of the pioneers of radio business in India. The Madras Corporation Radio Station was then in operation and I believe the guiding hand was Sri.Krishnaswamy Naidu. It was he who injected the Radio Bug in me. He had worked in the Navy as a Radio Operator and was also a dealer in Radio goods. He urged me to take up radio construction and sale and I began on a small scale. At that time there was hardly any one who had knowledge and capacity to understand the intricacies of this line. Intensive study of books and literature gave me the skills to  pursue this line.
  • There were only very few firms supplying the components. The Bombay Radio Co., Chicago and James Engineering Co., Highgranic and in Madras, Madras Radio Co. were prominent. Most of the parts were from England. The Americans came later on. Philips also came later on. We used to buy valves and loud speakers from Philips. Philips introduced the first radio set, known as 2802, which was also the first set to work on batteries.
  • The year 1923- - Due to slump in market conditions this business was closed. I shifted to Bangalore. Started business dealing in Electrical Goods, automobile service, etc.


  • I moved to Mysore in the year 1926 and started my own business under the name The International Agency dealing in low voltage goods. My interest in Radio was further enlarged by my contact with Sri.K.T.Kataba , who was then Superintendent of Industries  in Mysore and was one of the avid radio listeners . He built his Radio Receiver on the lines of the Marconi Receiver. He used to give the components and also help me in the construction of the sets. Later I  started to make my own radios on different lines. The only station received at that time in Mysore was the Colombo Station functioning round about 800 meters
  • A Photo of the shop at Mysore taken much later
  • In the Palace of the Maharaja of Mysore they had Thomas Transmitters which they were using for communicating with the Maharaja whenever he went on hunting expeditions or camps. It was a Marconi transmitter and had a camp set also. The persons from the electrical department  were sent to Bombay for training with Marconi people. These persons also helped me in construction of receivers and  understanding transmitters.


  • Short wave broadcasting was being experimented by 2.L.O. London(*) and P.C.J.Radio station at Eindoven in Holland ($). Philips at Eindoven, Holland, began a series of tests on 30 meters. I came to know of these tests through M/s.Precious Electric Co. Bombay and Mr.Radher who was resident representative of Philips in India. They used to inform me through telegram the timings of the broadcasts from Holland. I will then inform my local friends who were Radio enthusiasts. They will gather in my show room even at odd hours to listen to the clear and perfect broadcasts. I started making S.W.Broadcast Radio Receivers and sell them to local customers and many planters in Coorg and Nilgiris. Going a step further was my entry into Short Wave Broadcasting.
  • (*) details of BBC 2LO station can be viewed on
  • ($)




       I came into contact with Dr.M.V.Gopalaswamy who was professor and Head of the Department of Psychology at Mysore University. As he was also an ardent Radio enthusiast we became close friends. Later on in a unique collaborative effort we took forward the broadcasting activities from Mysore.

     Photograph of A.Jagadis, Dr.M.V.Gopalaswamy, A.S.V.MANI and others

  The late 1920s. The Indian Broadcasting Co., was operating two 1.5 Kilowatt Medium Wave broadcasting stations one at Bombay and another at Calcutta. They went into liquidation as they were unable to render effective service due to inadequate power of these stations to suppress atmospherics and local electrical disturbances. Hence we thought of starting SW  broadcasting which had very good strength and were free from disturbances.

  1. Investing our own funds we constructed a SW transmitter out of components purchased from an army officer who was leaving this country. The transmitter was set up in my shop in Sayyaji Rao road, Mysore. The power  on the aerial was only 5 watts but the quality and strength were so good that it was appreciated by Dr.E.P.Metcalfe, Vice Chancellor of the Mysore University as well as listeners from distant places.


 April 1934. We then bought a 25 watts transmitter  from Collins Radio Company ,USA *. The transmitter was installed in a room in the house of Dr.Gopalaswamy at Vontikoppal . We started broadcasting on 49 meters. The  Studio, if one may call so, was a room which was made sound proof  with the help of blankets, bed sheets and rugs. The antenna was put up on a tall pole made of pipes and bamboo sticks.  One Mr.Malimada used to take care of the problems in the antenna. He could go up the rickety structure with dexterity to set right the problems. He was  fondly called the Mast (tower) Engineer.

       (* ordered on 17.08.1933. Received in April 1934. Collins 32B transmitter to broadcast on 42.95 meters. Total cost including spare tubes etc. US$ 342.70

  • Though the 25W transmitter was meant for SW broadcasts permission was received for transmission only in Medium Wave. Hence using all my skills and the components available I had to modify the transmitter to transmit on MW on 310 meters. This was achieved with much effort and trials and errors. However the final outcome was so good that the quality of the transmissions and the programmes were appreciated by one and all.
  • 10th September, 1935 was the date on which the Mysore Radio Station was officially inaugurated by Dr.E.P.Metcalfe, the Vice Chancellor of the Mysore University.

As there were no recording equipments in the initial stages  the broadcasts had to be made live. It was very tough to get the artistes to come on time and also stick to the duration given to them . However they were very eager to give their best and co-operated fully. Great personages also  came to the studio to give talks and lectures. Providing programmes to sustain the listener’s interest was a herculean task with the limited funds available with us.


  • “AKASHVANI”. We had an enthusiastic group taking keen interest in all our activities. A discussion was taking place on a suitable name for our Radio Station. It was then that Mr.Narayana Sastry suggested the name of “AKASHVANI”. Dr.Narayana Sastry was at that time the Assistant Professor of Psychology under Dr.Gopalaswamy. He later on became the Head of the Department of Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The name Akashvani was later on adopted by All India Radio.
  • ( Mrs.Kamala Gopalaswamy’s letter dated 09 July 1982.)




  • RECORDINGS: Before we commenced our SW tests we learnt that a Missionary gentleman in Poona was making recordings and broadcasting them in the surrounding villages. I visited Poona to meet this gentleman and study his techniques. He was using a machine which he had brought from England and using the machine he was making recordings on Aluminium Discs. For playing back one had to use Bamboo Needles and not steel needles. We also imported this machine for use in our studio. The equipment also came with a cutter to sharpen the needles so that they could be used several times. These discs were in use during the years 1930 to 1932. Subsequently on the introduction of coated discs we used these to make recordings.
  • .Dr.M.V.Gopalaswamy believed that only SW broadcasting will render the maximum service at minimum cost suitable to the culture and tradition of India. All our efforts were therefore to experimentally prove to the authorities that SW broadcasting is the most suitable one for India. His personality, perfect self sacrifice and unselfish motives inspired everyone of his associates to greater efforts.


  • To make the tests more scientific we collected data from listeners on a printed format giving details of strength , quality, fading etc. These test results were properly tabulated. We were surprised and exuberant when we came to know that our transmissions were received very clearly even as far away as California in America. (copies of data sheets)

The Marconi Long wave transmitters with the Palace were marred by considerable atmospherics. Hence seeing our success with SW broadcasting, Dr.Metcalfe used my services to build a stationary transmitter for the Mysore Palace.  However for the two way communications while on hunting expeditions I imported for them Collins 45A 40 watts  transmitter along with receivers and petrol generators



  • One enthusiastic listener was Mr.S.Gopalan from Madras running his radio business there. He later on became the Deputy Director General of All India Radio, New Delhi. He was so impressed by our broadcasts that he called for the details of the transmitter we were using and details of the reports received by us from the listeners.
  • The Government of India took over the MW Stations of the failed Indian Broadcasting Co. and appointed Mr.Lionel Fieldon as Controller of Broadcasting in India. The British Government was strongly in favour of MW broadcasting. Having learnt about the success of our SW  broadcasts a committee was formed  to investigate and report on the type of broadcasting that  will be suitable for our country.
  • The committee consisted of Mr.Fieldon, Mr.Kirke, Research Engineer of British Broadcasting Co. of England and Mr.Bannerjee of the Post and Telegraph Department.
  • 10.03.1936 was an important date in the annals of SW radio Broadcasting in India.
  • When this committee visited Madras, Mr.Gopalan requested me by a telegram to make a test transmission on 10.03.1936. The transmission was so good that the members went into raptures as they could not believe that with such low power the reception could be so perfect and beautiful. Later myself and Dr.Gopalswamy met this committee in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and discussed our efforts and also presented to them a consolidated report about the results of the test transmissions done till then. They were also sarcastic about the fact that our transmitter was made in USA and not of British make.( Telegram from Mr.S.Gopalan dated 10.03.1936 and letter dated  11.03.1936. The transmission was done using the Collins 45A transmitter supplied to the Mysore Palace – letter dated 2.4.1936 to Collins.)
  • We  imported a 30watt SW transmitter which was used mainly for tests.
  • We also imported a 200 watts transmitter to make simultaneous broadcasts on short Wave.*
  • We were by then permitted to broadcast on SW in 49.3 Meters
  • (*Ordered on 14.05.1936. Collins 300BA Transmitter. 200 Watts. To operate on 310 meters.

            It was also used to transmit on 49.3 meters. The broadcast was received  as far away as 2500 miles.)

 Mr.Kirke after his return to England sent Mr.C.W.Goyder, an eminent radio engineer, to India who took over as the Chief Engineer of All India Radio. Mr.Goyder made a trip to Mysore to acquaint himself with our equipment and set up.  Mr.Goyder was so impressed he requested us to supply to AIR a similar transmitter for tests. (**)

    (**)Order dated 24.06.1936 of International Agency to Collins Radio for supplying 300BA 200 – 250 watts Radiotelephone and Radio Telegraph Transmitter at cost of US$2573,  cost of coils etc at US$ 317 .  Invoice A-10234 dated 20.08.1936.








Kaushik Vichar

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